Autor: Noel Allende-Goitía
Published: April 25, 2012.
Version: 12031802 Rev. 1
Zouk is a musical metagenre that synthesizes various French-speaking musical currents and reformulates them into a commercial musical format with a strong globalist accent. Zouk is a musical style that synthesizes previous musical traditions such as the gwo ka and biguine (bidgin bélè, or drum biguine, and the orchestra biguine) from the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. A huge migration of Haitians to these islands put their local musical styles into contact with kompa, kadans and Haitian mini-jazz.
Zouk emerged in the middle 1980s as a combination of the musical elements mentioned above, gwo ka, tambour, ti bwa and biguine vidé. Like other metagenres of the 20th century, its genesis and development are associated with singers and celebrities and the recording studios and record labels. A unifying element of this music is the exclusive use of French Creole, which has ensured its popularity and broad dissemination in the French-speaking countries. Musicians in Cape Verde have created their own style of zouk and the music is also very popular in France, the United States and Canada, especially in the province of Quebec.
Kassav was the musical group that launched and popularized this form. The group was founded in 1981 by Pierre-édouard Décimus, Freddy Marshall, Jacob Desvarieux and Jorge Décimus. As a form of dance music, zouk drew on already established traditions such as balakadri, bal gramoun, biguine and the island mazurka, as well as pan-Caribbean influences such as reggae, soca, salsa, and even rock. Like soca, lambada and kompa, zouk is used as the music of competitions during carnival. Its use in the French-speaking and Creole-speaking world and in Brazil has led to the development of new traditions, such as zouk-love, kizomba and the so-called cabo-love.
Reggaeton is a musical metagenre that is the result of various trends. First was the evolution of reggae music in Jamaica toward the dancehall reggae form, which was played over a sound system handled by a deejay who kept the music flowing while speaking in a rhyming and tuneful manner (called toasting). Later, through the Jamaican migration to Panama during the construction of the canal, reggae was introduced to the Spanish-speaking population of African descent, creating the basis for the raggamuffin in Spanish. Another influence was the genesis and development of hip-hop and rap in New York City as an emerging phenomenon in the African-American communities in the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn. Finally, there was the marketing of Panamanian reggae in Spanish-speaking countries, and the massive return migration in the 1980s of Puerto Ricans who were consumers and players of New York's hip-hop and found a common aesthetic in Spanish reggae. Musically, this metagenre shows influences of other Caribbean music such as the bomba, salsa, champeta, cumbia, vallenato and house merengue.
Raggamuffin spread from Panama broadly through the Spanish Caribbean. It was in Puerto Rico in the 1990s that it was given the name reggaeton. Its success did not displace rap or hip-hop, genres popular in Puerto Rico since the middle 1980s. In the beginning, reggae in Spanish, performed by El General, Chicho Man, Nando Boom, Renato, Apache Ness, Lisa M and Francheska, coexisted with the pioneering work of Vico C, Rubén DJ, Mey Vidal and others.
During that decade, artists such as Vico C, Wiso G, Tego Calderón, Ivy Queen, Don Chezina, Daddy Yankee, Master Joe and OG Black established reggaeton as Puerto Rican music. The Puerto Rican diaspora in New York, which was part of the east coast creation of hip-hop, claimed for itself the melting pot that made its existence possible, thus making a debate about the origins of the history of reggaeton.
Reggaeton is based on the rhythm of the Jamaican dembow. It has much in common with other Caribbean music of the African diaspora such as the plena, house merengue, kompa, soca, Cuban rumbas, cumbia and the punta, among others. The lyrics typically talk about sexual exploits, the movement of the female body in dance, hypereroticized tales of love, bling (jewelry used as accessories by youths), the exaltation of the rapper or reggaeton singer's life, etc. There is also an underlying social and political commentary. The dancing associated with reggaeton developed under a mutual influence between hip-hop and reggaeton itself.
Today, reggaeton coexists with Spanish rap, in many cases melding with it. As a Caribbean metagenre, its adaptability has led to the development of other rhythms, such as the bachatón, urban salsa, merenguetón, malianteo, cubatón, romantiqueo, cumbiatón, electric flow and reggaeton rock.